BusinessWeek’s Stephen Wildstrom recommends students pick Mac over Windows for first time

“In a few months, nearly 3 million freshmen will head off to college. Included in the gear most of them lug along will be a computer, often brand new. This year I have some advice for the college-bound: Unless you have a compelling reason not to go with a Mac, an Apple laptop or desktop offers the best combination of features, ease of use, and value,” Stephen H. Wildstrom writes for BusinessWeek. “While I have been a Mac fan for years, I have never felt strongly enough to make the Mac a default recommendation. But things have changed. Mac software, both the OS X operating system and the applications such as iPhoto and GarageBand bundled with it, have gotten steadily better, while Windows seems stuck in a rut. Meanwhile, new Mac hardware based on Intel processors has erased the performance gap between Macs and products from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and others in the Windows camp. The move to Intel also lets Macs run most Windows programs, either by rebooting using Apple’s Boot Camp software, or right on the Mac desktop using Parallels Workstation.”

MacDailyNews Take: Performance gap erased? Tell it to a Power Mac G5 Quad owner. We grow tired of the revisionists’ love for Intel. We’re not specifically targeting Wildstrom here, he’s just the one who set us off on this tangent. Many times have we heard and read, “Now, I can consider a Mac since they went Intel!” And this was even before Boot Camp and Parallels Desktop for Mac, by the way. Before the Core Duo, the PowerPC-based Macs were competitive at the very least with Intel-powered PCs. The people that lovingly accept Macs now just because they come with Intel Inside should know that they sound silly. They must be brainwashed after years of hearing Intel’s chimes in TV and radio ads. Somehow, just knowing that the processor says “Intel” instead, makes some people more accepting of Macs. To them we say that PowerPC-based Macs offered the exact same superior experience vs. Windows PCs for years and years. Yes, just before the Intel switch, the PowerPC G4 we were all stuck with in Mac portables suffered from a performance gap vs. some portable PCs, but there was no such performance gap when Apple’s first G4 PowerBooks debuted. And the G5’s inside the last Power Mac towers certainly did not have any such gap on the desktop. A Power Mac G5 Quad offers unmatched price/performance right now, today. The new processors from Intel that Apple’s using now are not Pentiums. Apple was right to switch when they did, but they were also right not to switch to Intel sooner. By the way, this is written on an Intel-powered MacBook Pro and the performance is amazing! But, those who change their opinion and accept Macs now based solely on the fact that they have “Intel Inside” are just plain silly. Now, back on-topic:

Wildstrom continues, “Students who know about Windows Vista, the first major improvement in Windows in five years, might be inclined to stick with PCs. But Vista, which won’t be out until next year, may not do much more than catch up to OS X. And before Vista ships, Apple plans to release a new version of OS X called Leopard that will likely raise the bar even higher.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David K.” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Note: One more thing… Students: Buy a Mac get a free iPod nano.

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47 Comments

  1. I agree with MacZeus, Apple was losing serious ground with their portables, before the MacBook there was a huge performance gap between a $1200 iBook and a $1200 Dell. Good thing the Intel Core-duo’s closed that gap, big time.

  2. MacZeus,

    Even a God should read the full article:

    Apple, of course, offers a much more limited range of hardware than Windows vendors do. It has just three laptop and two desktop lines, excluding the professionally oriented Power Mac workstations. In laptops, which most students probably prefer, there’s the 13-in. widescreen MacBook starting at $1,099, and the 15.4-in. and 17-in. widescreen MacBook Pros, starting at $1,999 and $2,799, respectively. In each case, even the base models are pretty well loaded; the one step I recommend, if you are looking at a model with just 512 megabytes of memory, is to increase that to 1 gigabyte.

    Apple offers two unique desktop designs, either of which is better suited to the cramped confines of a dorm room than a Windows desktop. At the low end is the very compact Mac mini, which comes without a keyboard or a screen and is available for either $599 or $799. The extra $200 buys you the Intel Core Duo processor, which is well worth the money. The other design option is the elegant all-in-one iMac with a 17-in. ($1,299) or 20-in. ($1,699) flat-panel display.

    So, Wildstrom is talking about notebooks and desktops for students.

    MDN is, of course, correct. An iMac G5 offered the same superior experience to students for years. Some people I’ve talked to are all excited that Macs went Intel for no other reason than “Intel Inside” is all they know.

  3. Agree totally with MacZeus. Perception is more important than reality: people believe the MHz myth and the Intel transition “erases” the performance gap in their minds. One less reason not to choose Mac. Who cares if people get it wrong about relic machines — G5 is gone (or will be once MacPro appears). Positive press is positive press, even if it perpetuates certain antiquated myths.

  4. The MacBooks are selling well. However I recommend students buy desktops if possiable.
    Desktops are less likely dropped, stolen or suffer spill damage.

    The next revision of the iMac will be a very nice machine indeed.

  5. Dude, I did read the whole article. Students buy notebooks for school, ever see anyone bring an iMac into class? Me neither.

    The article was correct that Intel erased the performance gap in the type of Macs that students choose probably 95% of the time. Notebooks. End of story.

  6. Jimy,

    Why is MacZeus’ an “excellent point” when he’s wrong? Read the MDN Take in full – they explain the notebooks vs. desktops stuff quite well. And read Wildstrsom’s full article where he’s not just “talking about notebooks for students.”

  7. Pete, besides the fact that MDN added that line to their take after the fact, it is still an un-necessary tangent. The article made a legitimate point, MDN took it out of context and went off on a rant.

  8. Strike 3 for MDN today.

    1. Ford and GM FUD
    2. Their Merrill Lynch “decelerate” error. (which they removed and called it a “quibble.”
    3. Denial of authors performance gap statment.

  9. MDN –

    G4 products for three years straight were getting pelted by Intel and AMD (AMD more so).

    For three years Apple G4 anything got to watch Centrino laptops and P4 desktops take reign and dominate in speed. That’s not opinion, that’s simply a fact.

    Even AltiVech as great as it is, eventually got beat by sheer Intel horsepower. PSD files moving faster on a Windows box? True, but hard to swallow.

    Enter the G5:
    The G5 really changed things on the desktop side of the house for Apple, and yes, your Quad system is not only impressive, it’s a monster. Power a-hoy!

    Currently, AMD has some product that can meet or best the now-getting-stale PPC970 product family, while Intel’s desktop series is on life support…

    This is about to change with Conroe and Woodcrest in the workstation arena.

    But again, G4 products were getting thumped by any type of competitive offering from the Wintel side of the house.

    As for me and my dual 2.5 G5, we are doing just fine.

    ~Steven

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